How to stay safe online: CNET's security checklist

Safeguard your personal information against the most common Internet perils by taking these security measures.

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Josh Miller/CNET

It's always better to be safe than sorry. Especially when it comes to your personal information. Keeping your info secure online requires you take more time and care, but what you lose in moments you'll surely make up in peace of mind.

Follow the steps below to increase your online security.

Protecting your password

Sure, you're not likely to openly share your password with people you don't trust, but unfortunately you don't have to go that far for it to be compromised. Yes, keeping passwords to yourself is a smart first step, but there is room to go further.

One tip is to choose a password that isn't easy for others to guess. Computer security expert, Bruce Scheier, suggests to "Combine a personally memorable sentence with some personally memorable tricks to modify that sentence into a password." So if your sentence is "When I was 11, my sister made me fight the neighborhood bully", your password could be "Wiw11msmmFtnbully". Obviously, don't use that one, but instead come up with your own.

Be sure to check out our password guide for more details on creating a secure password. Also, getting a password manager can make keeping track of passwords much more convenient and less time consuming if you forget them.

Sharon Profis/CNET

Keep your email from getting hacked

Believe it or not, even in the age of Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Slack and text messages, people still use email to communicate. And as a consequence, emails still get hacked. As many times as computer users have been told not to click attachments from untrustworthy sources -- or sometimes even from people you do know -- apparently we still click on them. Which unfortunately can lead to your email being hacked or some nefarious program being installed on your machine. So seriously, stop doing that.

If you get an attachment from someone you know that you were not expecting, check with the sender to confirm it was sent on purpose. Clicking on a malicious attachment can install malware on your machine, like a worm or virus.

Here are no less than 10 other ways to protect your email from being compromised.

Shopping online

If you're using your credit card to shop online, there is risk that your information will be stolen and used to buy something without your consent. Here are a few things to keep in mind:

Only use your credit on websites with the prefix, "https". The "s" in https indicates that the site in question is using a secure protocol to encrypt communications between you and the website. You'll see this protocol used on online banking sites and shopping sites if you're looking at sensitive information.

If you don't see "https", the chances of your information being compromised increases. For more detailed and specialized information on protecting your info online, check out our guides on shopping safely online and protecting your credit card online.

Lexy Savvides/CNET

Better account protection

When most users log into their accounts, they enter their username and a password and they're in. This is known as single-factor authorization and it is indeed secure, but there's an even more secure way to log into important accounts.

Tw0-factor authorization uses an additional security credential to access an account like a fingerprint or a unique pattern. This way, if someone does gain access to your basic login information, they'd also need access to your fingerprint or unique pattern to access your account info.

CNET How To gives you a detailed overview on how to enable two-factor authentication anywhere. If you're looking only to enable two-factor authorization on popular websites or two-step verification on the iPhone, we have you covered there as well.

Dig in to discover a simple way to make your accounts more secure.

Josh Miller/CNET

Protecting your mobile device

Most of the tips outlined above can also be used on your smartphone or tablet, but for more specific mobile device security tips, check out these seven smartphone security tips and this iOS 9 privacy guide for some useful tips specific to the iPhone and iPad.

Staying secure

Look, there's pretty much nothing you can do if someones wants to get your personal information and has the time and means. Sometimes it's out of your hands; however, the tips outlined above are things you can control. Focusing on that is your best bet.

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